Conversations can be hard, so here’s some facts you can blurt out when awkward silence strikes!
1. A writer predicted how the Titanic would sink in 1898, 13 years before it was even built.
American author Morgan Robertson wrote “The Wreck Of The Titan,” and the similarities between the book and the actual disaster are shocking. Not only is the book called Titan, it also sunk in mid-April (the Titanic sank 14-15th April), it had too few lifeboats, and it sunk after hitting an iceberg. Robertson lived long enough to see his imagined tragedy come to life, but when people called him a clairvoyant, he brushed them off, saying, “No, I know what I’m writing about, that’s all.”
2. There’s a town in Poland where everything is decorated with paintings of flowers.
Zalipie, Poland, is a small town of about 750 people, but it makes up for its tiny size with style. Townspeople started painting beautiful floral motifs on their houses to cover up smoke stains from their wood-burning stoves, and the trend caught on. Now, everything in the town, from houses to chicken coops to bridges is covered in gorgeous paintings of flowers, making it perhaps the prettiest small town in the world.
3. There are trees that can grow more than one kind of fruit, and they’re called fruit salad trees.
Australians James and Kerry West breed the whimsical trees by grafting different types of fruits from the same family onto a single tree. The results are Stonefruit trees that produce peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums all from the same branches, and citrus trees that grow lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits.
4. “Horizontal Refreshment” was 19th century slang for sex.
In 1863, people were more colourful with their descriptions, apparently. Other charming old-school references to sex include lerricompoop (1694), to play at rumpscuttle and clapperdepouch (1684), and fadoodling (1611).
5. In Queensland, Australia, it’s illegal to own a pet rabbit unless you’re a magician.
As recently as 2014, the Queensland Government flat-out rejected citizens’ requests to legally own pet rabbits of their own, stating that the fuzzy animals are destructive agricultural pests. In fact, if you’re caught owning one in that part of the world, you’ll be hit with a $44,000 penalty and six months in prison!
6. Elizabeth Jennings Graham did what Rosa Parks did, but a century earlier on a New York City streetcar. Her eventual lawsuit led to the desegregation of New York’s public transit system.
7. Sea otters have a pouch under their forearm to store food and their favourite rocks.
In case sea otters weren’t already the cutest animal, here’s more proof. Otters use the pockets of loose skin under their arms to not only store food for later, but also their favourite rocks, because what’s better than a really nice rock? Nothing, that’s what.